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Eagles

Eagles didn't play well against Buccaneers but they never stopped playing hard

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TAMPA — It was a year ago Monday that the Eagles went into Kansas City and fell behind by two touchdowns before eventually losing to the Chiefs, 27-20.

They didn’t play particularly smart or well against the Chiefs, but no matter how bad things got at Arrowhead, their effort never waned. It made you feel like better days were ahead.

Then they won nine straight games and then a Super Bowl.

You know where we’re going with this.

Another road game. Another Week 2 loss. Almost identical score.

I don’t like that the Eagles lost to Tampa Sunday (see observations), but I like the way they didn’t stop battling and didn’t stop fighting no matter how ugly things got on the scoreboard.

That became a hallmark of the 2017 Eagles.

Purse Purses Women Cartoon Small Coin Wallet Leaf Butterfly Zipper Iron Handbag Ladies Wallet Canvas We remember a team that went 13-2 in meaningful games and roared through the playoffs. But the reality is things didn’t always come easily for the Super Bowl Eagles. They trailed at some point in nine of their 13 regular-season wins and all three playoff wins.

That was a team that never stopped fighting, no matter the score, the time on the clock, the injuries. And if you keep playing hard, anything can happen. We saw it. We lived it.

And on Sunday, I really liked what I saw from that standpoint.

When you look up on the scoreboard and see 27-7 late in the third quarter it can be demoralizing. We’ve all seen teams that let that snowball. It’s easy to just think, “OK, it’s not our day,” and start thinking about next week, and that 27-7 can quickly become 44-7.

That’s what I look for when a team is getting blown out, and 27-7 late in the third quarter is getting blown out. How do they handle it?

Just like last year in Kansas City, the Eagles left Tampa understanding what just happened. They lost because they didn’t make enough plays on either side of the ball. But the effort was constant and that’s encouraging.

Here’s Malcolm Jenkins, eloquent as always:

Effort and resilience is never something we question with this team. Our fight is something that shows up in everything we do. We just have to do a better job of allowing that effort and resilience and fight to rise to the top without setting ourselves back.

Because we’re just not that good to overcome that many big plays, that many mistakes that are self-inflicting. The same lessons we had to learn last year as part of that season. Obviously, if we don’t correct our mistakes we’ll continue to lose, but if we continue to play like we’ve been playing, with the effort and resilience, we’ll be hard to beat.”

This team is talented. I don’t question that. Sure, they could use some help at wide receiver, but that’s coming with Alshon Jeffery. And Carson Wentz is really close, too. He'll make everybody better.

Defensively, the big plays have to stop, but this defense is too good to let that keep happening. Especially up front. That hasn't been their personality and it won't be. 

Every team faces adversity. Last-place teams, Super Bowl teams. When I really start to worry is when they don’t respond when things are at their worst. When they let a bad loss become a worse loss. When they let things snowball. When they stop caring as much when they’re losing as when they’re winning.

I saw no sign of that Sunday night, and that’s really encouraging.

The Eagles ran into a hot, hungry, motivated team Sunday that jumped on them early and did enough to finish things off.

But I don’t worry about the Eagles. They’ll be fine. What we saw on the scoreboard was ugly. What we saw on the field gives me hope.

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Eagles' uncharacteristic breakdowns allowed Buccaneers to hit big plays

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TAMPA — Malcolm Jenkins blamed himself for the first one: “I just vacated the post. Inexcusable mistake.”

Jalen Mills blamed himself, too: “Good throw, good catch, touchdown. Just have to be better in coverage.”

Ronald Darby blamed himself for the second one: “It was just a bad play. A missed tackle. Get it fixed and move on to next week.”

Two plays. Ballgame.

Two plays defined the Eagles’ 27-21 loss to the Bucs Sunday at Raymond James Stadium (see observations).

Two plays the Eagles can’t allow to happen.

Ryan Fitzpatrick 75 yards to DeSean Jackson on the first play of the game, and Fitz’s 75-yarder to O.J. Howard late in the second quarter.

“That’s 14 points, those two plays,” Mills said. “We take those away, we win the ballgame.”

Their loss to the Bucs Sunday was the first game in franchise history the Eagles have allowed two 75-yard touchdown passes before halftime.

“It’s hard on any defense when teams are getting explosives,” Rodney McLeod said. “We can’t win like that. Can’t put ourselves in that situation.”

Those two long TDs equaled the total number of 75-yard touchdowns the Eagles allowed in their previous 23 games going back to late in the 2016 season.

This is totally out of character. 

The Eagles usually get enough pressure that quarterbacks don’t have time to crank up deep balls. And they have talented albeit young corners and smart safeties.

Heck, the Eagles only allowed nine touchdown passes longer than 20 yards in 19 games all last year!

But this was just a combination of two plays where the Bucs executed at a high level and the Eagles didn’t.

“We killed ourselves,” Darby said. “It’s nothing they did, it’s what we did to ourselves.”

It’s going to be tough for any offense to march 80 yards in 12 plays against the Eagles. 

So teams are going to take shots. Especially teams that have the kind of firepower the Bucs have.

“It’s disappointing, it’s frustrating,” Jenkins said. “But in no way do we feel like it’s an emergency. I just can’t be stupid and vacate the post and we’ve just got to get a guy on the ground.

“It’s that simple.”

Only once in Eagles history had they allowed two 75-yard TDs in the same game. That was Carson Palmer to Larry Fitzgerald and John Brown in that 24-20 loss in Arizona in 2014.

“We take those plays away — even if they’re not touchdowns — and we find a way to get ‘em on the ground and they’re still big plays? We live to fight another down,” Jenkins said.

“So that’s really the most frustrating part of it, that those two big plays turned into points.

“Big plays will happen, but those can’t go for touchdowns. Not that quick. They’ve got to be able to earn their way down the field.”

The Eagles on Sunday became the first team in three years to allow two 75-yard TDs in a first half. Jay Cutler and the Bears hit two in the first half against the Rams in 2015.

Losing QB in that game: Nick Foles.

“It happens,” Nigel Bradham said. “It’s football. It’s not like we weren’t in position. If we weren’t in position that would be a problem. But we were. But I believe in our guys to make those plays.”

When a team goes 75 yards in one play, that’s just so hard to overcome mentally. Tough to bounce back from.

But I wouldn’t be shocked if the Eagles don’t allow another deep ball over the top again this year.

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Michael Bennett’s court date has been pushed back again. 

There was a scheduled court date on Tuesday in Bennett’s case for that felony injury to the elderly charge he’s facing in Houston, but it has now been rescheduled for Oct. 17 at 1 p.m., according to Harris County court records. 

Bennett’s attorney, Rusty Hardin, confirmed to NBC Sports Philadelphia on Monday night that the date has been moved again. 

This is the fifth time a court date on this case has been moved. The original arraignment date was April 23. It was pushed to May 18, then June 25, then Aug. 7, then Sept. 18 and is now Oct. 17. 

The new date is the Wednesday before the Eagles’ home game against the Panthers. 

Back in the spring, Hardin adamantly denied any wrongdoing from his client, saying, “He just didn’t do it.” 

Bennett, 32, is facing a felony charge for allegedly pushing and injuring an elderly paraplegic woman who was working on the field after Super Bowl LI in Houston. Bennett was there to support his brother, Martellus, who was then playing for the Patriots. The alleged incident happened after the Patriots won and Michael Bennett was trying to get on the field. 

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